Homebrewed Water Kefir


Thanks to Katie, a fellow apprentice here at Whole Circle, I am now in love with another homebrew drink that is so easy to make, as long as you have kefir culture (pictured above).

Why water kefir?

Aside from it being easy and delicious!… it is packed with some great nutritional benefits. This bubbly beverage is especially handy to have around when you crave effervescence but do not want the associated processed sugars and other junk from sodas. And let’s face it, sometimes it is nice to hydrate with something other than water.

During the fermentation process, the kefir produces probiotics, which are important “good” bacteria for our digestive system. The probiotic benefits of water kefir are vegan friendly – so for all the vegans out there this is a great way to drink up probiotics! Water kefir has also been noted to be a great source for vitamin B12, as well as a good source for B1 & B6.

Water Kefir

1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water kefir grains
1 lemon – organic, unpeeled & cut in half
4 figs or ~ 1/4 cup of unsulphured dried fruit of your choice

Place ingredients into a gallon glass jar, fill jar with water and cover with a breathable cloth/cheesecloth. Secure with rubber band & let sit to ferment for 72 hours at room temperature. After three days, remove cloth and strain. Discard figs, save kefir grains in some liquid for next batch (or immediately make another since you’ll quickly become addicted) and squeeze juice of lemons into your water kefir. Option to also add ~1/2 cup of your favorite fruit juice after kefir has been strained. Store in refrigerator – the longer water kefir is stored – the more fermented *more effervescent* it will become.

For those who weren’t gifted kefir grains like I was you can order some here. Keep in mind that with each batch, the grains will multiply, allowing your supply to expand each time.

Katie and I are now on a mission to have multiple batches continually brewing as we are obsessed. As we master certain flavor combinations I will be sure to share!


Warm Weather Inspiration

Warmer temperatures these past few days have helped me see some light at the end of the tunnel (although it still seems eons away). Sunday morning after nearly three hours of hot yoga – hellllo sweat – I walked outside to a 70 degree, very sunny day! Amazing. Showered, made some green juice, ate half a pineapple (totally normal…), and joined my friend Jeanne & Edison (pictured below) for an afternoon walk to the park. Spent a lovely hour or so soaking up the warm rays and getting a fair amount of pet therapy in the process… SO many cute puppies.



Was too distracted with his cuteness to remember his name

Monday morning I woke up pre-sunrise to finish Pineapple Culture, a book I’ve been reading for my Food, Culture, & History class this week. With my tea I had fresh orange and pineapple juice (coincidence???). In the juicer went 5 small valencia oranges and about 1/4 of the remaining pineapple from Sunday. Simple, sweet, and a wonderful way to start my Monday. Unfortunately, I will now always associate pineapple with American imperialism in Hawaii… I double checked-my pineapple came from Costa Rica. Certainly no better. Can’t win.

Late Monday night I decided to make cashew butter and a face scrub. I’m not sure what made me decide to do this but come 10:30 I figured it was time to start a project in the kitchen. So unfortunately for my neighbor I ran my food processor, loudly, for a good 15 minutes.

It’s too bad my apartment has horrific lighting and pictures don’t do justice for anything made here. So I can’t share what these two look like. You’ll just have to trust my judgment and make them yourself because they are worth it.

Cashew Butter

Simple. Grab a bunch of raw cashews and throw them in the food processor. Turn it on and let it process. Every few minutes scrape the sides and mix up what is in there to make sure nothing gets glued to the sides. After about 10-15 minutes you’ll have a smooth & creamy butter. No need to add additional oils- there are plenty naturally in the cashews. Enjoy! Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Oatmeal Lavender Face Scrub

Exfoliating your face with this brings out a rich lavender smell… can’t beat it. And an excellent, chem-free way to refresh your skin after winter.

In a food processor combine:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dry lavender flowers, stripped off stalks (available at health food stores & Whole Foods herb bulk sections)

Pulse these a few times just enough to break up the oatmeal a bit. Transfer to a bowl and add ~1/4 cup of milk. Stir to combine. Massage into damp skin and rinse. Will store in a sealed container up to six months.

Last night I also made kale & lentil soup for a friend. While I didn’t taste it – I can guarantee, based off the smell of my apartment after it was cooking all night in the crockpot, it is bound to be tasty…. Marisa will have to confirm :)

Kale & Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup of green or brown lentils, picked & rinsed
6 cups of broth or water
4 kale leaves (Dino/lacinato works best)
1 tbsp tamari (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Combine oil, onion, garlic, carrot and celery in crock-pot on low.
2. Rinse lentils, add to pot along with broth or water. Add tamari if desired.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
4. Cut kale into bite size strips and either a) steam in a double boiler for 5 minutes or b) add directly to crock at least 15 minutes prior to serving to soften.
5. Season with salt & pepper if desired.

>Beverages with a KICK

>I’m so grateful there is a whole plethora of healthy beverages out there that aren’t just water. While I love love love water and never have a problem downing my recommended daily intake and then some- I thoroughly enjoy drinks with some bubbles and flavor. Aside from juices and smoothies, my favorites include kombucha (my favorite brand is GT’s), coconut water, coconut kefir water, and apple cider vinegar. Just as food combinations are very important for proper digestion- so too is consuming beverages. Years back when I began drinking kombucha I loved it so much I’d down a whole bottle as fast as it will take you to read this post. This only led to bloating and discomfort. So I thought I just couldn’t drink the stuff. Thankfully I tuned in. The key is drinking it on an empty stomach- or mostly empty- and sipping, not chugging. If you are so thirsty that you feel the need to chug the heck outta it, drink water! Same goes for water with ACV… enjoy it rather than devour.

If you’ve never tried kombucha I highly recommend it. I even got my Dad to try it a few weeks ago and after him saying no over 10 times, he ACTUALLY didn’t dislike it once he caved to my persistence. Look for it at your local natural health food store-Whole Foods is always a guarantee. My favorite flavors from GT’s (link above) are mango, strawberry, gingerade, and guava. They used to carry a grape that was just like drinking grape soda… the culprit in my chugging days- just too darn good!

ACV by far is the cheapest and easiest. Mix a few teaspoons in with my water and it is an instant belly pleaser! The smell may turn you off at first, as it does for many folk. Keep an open mind :) There are many benefits to incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily regime. My go-to brand is Braggs.

Coconut water (or juice) and KeVita are my other faves. Personally I can’t get enough of Amy & Brian’s coconut water with pulp. The first time I tried young coconut water with pulp I thought it was one of the nastiest drinks ever! I couldn’t understand how anyone could enjoy chunks of coconut in their drink. Now I’d live off it if I could. Try some coco H20 to rehydrate naturally after or before workouts, dehydration from illness, or dehydration from drinking too much the night before :) Your body will appreciate it much more than sugary Gatorade. As for KeVita-I usually go for the mango coconut flavor. It has the benefits of both probiotics (same as what you find in kombucha) and coco water.

Go ahead and give one or all of these a try if you haven’t yet! I’d love to hear your thoughts :)

>Kombucha Update

>My SCOBY culture has formed! I have given it a little more than two weeks to grow in a dark place at room temperature. Here is what it looks like at 15 days (the white layer on top of the liquid is the scoby).

Today I will make my first batch of tea and let it brew for about 10 days. Long process… but slow food is always worth it :)

>Family Farmed Expo & Local Food

>This weekend my mom & I attended the Family Farmed Expo at UIC in Chicago. It’s always nice to attend an event that showcases things I love: food, farms, and friendly faces. I enjoyed speaking with local farmers & sampling lots of sprouts! I left two hours later a happy owner of some tasty goods: raw honey, sprouts, kombucha, and homemade tofu. We also sampled some AWESOME nut butters. For real the most delicious take on walnut, cashew, pecan, and almond butter I have ever had. Naturally sweetened with a touch of raw honey, coconut oil for creaminess, and a touch of sea salt. wow wow wow. I am already soaking some almonds to make my own…

I was REALLY excited to find the kombucha… I left Hawaii without shipping my mother culture home so I could continue my brewing I started there. For those unfamiliar with kombucha… it is a fermented tea loaded with probiotics. It is really simple and delicious (some may disagree so I’d say it’s an acquired love). A local kombucha company hooked me up with one of their brews that I can actually produce my own mother from-never knew you could do this! Normally you wouldn’t be able to do this with the more commercial brands since they strain the drink so much. The mother culture, formerly called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast), runs the fermentaiton show-without it you’d be drinking regular tea. So I now have a jar with my brew in the cupboard waiting to grow a new SCOBY- I can’t wait to show my Dad in two weeks. I’m certain it will rank on the gross scale at a solid 9 or 10.

Besides the tasty treats I found… the expo reminded me to share resources to shop local, how to find local CSAs and farmers markets. I have always found Local Harvest to be an excellent resource for all these. You can search restaurants, coops, CSAs, farmers markets, etc. for the entire country. Not only is this helpful for finding all the great places local to your home but a great way to know places to eat & find fresh food when you are traveling!

Happy local eating!